On May 25, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, paid a state visit to Nigeria, where he met with President Muhammadu Buhari with whom he officially discussed strengthening bilateral relations, including the organization of a Joint Ministerial Commission to be held in Addis Ababa later in June.

According to rumors reported by some regional media outlets (https://borkena.com/2022/05/29/nigeria-ethiopian-pm-abiy-tplf-leaders-met-for-negotiation/), which are difficult to verify, the Ethiopian prime minister also secretly met in Abuja during the state visit with a representative of the Tigrinya ruling party TPLF, who had specially come to Nigeria’s capital to meet with Abiy Ahmed.

The Tigrinya delegation was reportedly led by former Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Kristos, and discussed with the Ethiopian prime minister the possibility of an agreement to end the crisis brought about by the recent conflict.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reportedly agreed to several of the demands made by Tigray, including the ceding of a significant part of the Wolkait area, in exchange for support designed to curb the role of armed militias in Oromia and Amhara.

Also, according to news sources (https://www.agenzianova.com/news/etiopia-fonti-stampa-ahmed-incontra-in-segreto-il-tplf-in-nigeria-e-si-prepara-a-una-possibile-ribellione-eritrea/), the talks between the prime minister and the TPLF would be part of a growing crisis between the federal government in Addis Ababa and Eritrea. In this context, while the prime minister would be engaged in trying to identify the possibility of an agreement with the Tigrines to end the violence in northern Ethiopia, this approach would be strongly criticized by both Eritrea and the Amhara regional state government. The former regard the TPLF as an existential threat to national security, and do not intend to compromise with the authorities in Mekelle, while the latter do not intend to withdraw from the territories of western Tigray occupied as a result of the conflict, also denouncing Tigrinya aggression in the Wolkait area.

Impossible at present to verify the veracity of reports of the meeting in Abuja between Abiy Ahmed and TPLF representatives, although signs of renewed political intensity in the region are particularly evident in recent weeks.

Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, now the African Union’s High Representative for the Horn of Africa, met in Mekelle on May 31 with TPLF Chairman Debretsion Gebremichael, with whom he held talks on which strict confidentiality was maintained (https://addisstandard.com/asdailyscoop-au-horn-envoy-meets-tigrays-leader/). These talks have been interpreted by many as the effect of the earlier meeting in Abuja between Abiy Ahmed and Gebre-Kristos, placing them within the framework of a broader regional design aimed at fostering an agreement between the federal government in Addis Ababa and that of Tigray state.

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